The Edelman Trust Barometer is an in-depth study of brand perception, reputation and trust that the Edelman digital agency publishes annually.
It looks at many dimensions such as industry and geography with powerful insights into our relationship with businesses. One interesting finding from the report highlights the importance of academics as influencers:
This is particularly interesting given that a lot of discussion around influencer programs tends to focus on customers, employees or other constituents of the organization ecosystem, but rarely touches on engagement with academia.
What is a key takeaway? Organizations that can engage academics and cultivate advocacy in this field stand to gain the most in terms of building their brand reputation. One word of caution: academics are at the top of this list thanks to their lack of inherent bias (unlike financial or industry analysts who receive much of their funding from the people they cover). An influencer program aimed at customers or employees can’t just be transposed onto this group. Leading with product-first is often not the best approach either.
How can businesses best serve the academic community? One way is through sharing thought leadership and an industry perspective. Another is by providing access to sales and client teams that can really talk about what they face in developing business opportunities. We have also seen incredible results from aligning academics to an event strategy: eg. taking faculty to key industry and customer events and offering them opportunities to share their perspective through video and other approaches.
So, whilst academics are growing in importance as influencers, you need to be mindful of how you engage with them.